Wednesday, November 27, 2013


My mother's ability to cook has always been both a blessing and a curse. Growing up, I don't remember a single meal that wasn't well prepared and delicious. I mean there were things I wouldn't eat, but that was more about me being a little bitch than her culinary skills. Birthday cakes were homemade, cookie dough was made from scratch, and frozen TV dinners were looked down upon with scorn and derision.

But with every bite of every scrumptious meal grew the fear that I would never be able to live up to this. My cookies are never as moist. My chicken seems a bit bland. My meringue is laughable. And I don't think I'll ever figure out how to properly make an egg sandwich.

The situation hasn't been helped by, what I perceive as, my mother's complete lack of faith in my abilities. I'm sure she doesn't mean to be discouraging, but it's hard not to take it personally when each time I ask for a recipe she responds with, "Well...that one's kind of...involved."

The situation boiled over a few years ago as I was prepping for our first ever "Friendsgiving." It's exactly what it sounds like. Thanksgiving, but without all that family drama mixed in. We have it a few weeks before real Thanksgiving, and I was making the stuffing.

I called my mother to talk through the recipe, and the conversation that ensued nearly led me to a nervous breakdown.

"Now you're going to add the sage." - Mom
"Okay, how much?" - Me
"To taste."
"Okay, well I don't know what different amounts of sage are going to taste like. Can you tell me how much I'll be using?"
"A lot."
"A lot?"
"Yes, a lot."
"How much is a lot?"
"I don't know, quite a bit?"
"Like a cup?"
"Oh no, that's way too much. Don't use too much or you'll ruin it." 
"Are you kidding me right now? Use a lot, but just not too much or I'll RUIN it?! That's all you can give me?"
"Use about a third of the jar."
"But what size jar are you talking about?"
"I don't know the EXACT size of the jar, Chris, it's a little one."
"So...use less than half of a tiny container of sage...that's what you mean by a lot?"
"Please tell me that you are also hearing how crazy this all sounds, and I'm not just losing my mind."
"I told you it was involved."
"Chris? Hello?"
"...I'm here. So...I'll be using a lot?"
"Yes, but not too much."

I was a shaking, anxious mess the entire six hours the stuffing was in the crock pot, but I made it through, and it turned out wonderfully. So when it came time to start organizing this year's Friendsgiving I knew that I had the skills to once again pull it off, but I just wasn't sure if emotionally I was prepared. Nevertheless I agreed to take care of the mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn casserole, and...the stuffing.

I still had Mom's recipes from the last time I'd attempted, so I was leaving her out of it. I was going to assert my adulthood, and adults don't need to call their mommy every time they have a dinner party to go to. quick question can't hurt.

"How many potatoes should I use for the mashed potatoes? I've never cooked for 8 people before."
"One per person."
"Only 8 potatoes? Are you sure that's right? That doesn't seem like it will be enough."
"It will be."
"But they're red potatoes."
"Yes, 8 will do."
"Yeah...but red potatoes are smaller than normal potatoes, so I'll probably need a few more, right?"
"Well, you can use a few more if it'll make you feel better."
"Are you sure that will be enough?"
"Yes, Chris, I'm sure."
"...that can't be right."

It's amazing that she's never hit me.

When the day arrived, I woke up early (11:45) so I could get the stuffing going. I ran into problems immediately when I realized that I didn't know how to properly cook the onions and celery. I'd made Beth do that part the last time, and because of the sage breakdown, I wasn't paying too close attention to what she did.

So I panicked and called home.

"Hello Christopher."
"Dad, is Mom there?!"
"No, she's out."
"She should be home in an hour."
"Is it something that I can help you with?"
"Well...what do you know about stuffing?"
"You'll need to talk to your mother."
"I can't WAIT that long!"
"Well aren't the instructions on the box?"

"That's...not what's happening here."

After I Googled "How do I cook onions?" I got the show back on the road. 

I got everything in the crock pot (nearly forgetting the sage), and headed over to Jamie's where Friendsgiving was being held. We had hours to kill that I had just planned on drinking wine and watching TV during, but Jamie had other ideas. Apparently, the responsible thing to do is to prep the meal first and reward yourself after

I don't know about you, but I prefer my gratification to be instant.

At this point I was going to go into a whole long thing about how important friendship is, and how thankful I am for everything, but it's the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and I just got a little wine drunk with my family and really just don't feel like it anymore. So f#%! the rest of this blog, I'll just share some photos from the evening.

Veggie tray turkey by Emma
Cranberry dip by Julie

James by Julie and Ben
Pies by Julie
At this point I'd typically give you links to recipes or whatever, but there's another bottle to be uncorked, so let me know if you want something in the comments and I'll make sure you get it.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all! I'm going to leave you with a bit of advice my grandmother gave me after sharing the sage story.

"Don't worry about it. You can use too much sage. It'll taste like shit, but you can do it."

Now that's the empowerment I was looking for.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

15 Insights for My 15 Year Old Self

I recently found myself reminiscing over my old year books and considering just how awful High School could be. I mean, don't get me wrong, I think I had it better than most of my peers in the LGBT community (but mostly because I was just far too busy with Choir rehearsals to worry about being called a fag in the hallway), but I had my fair share of "I can't believe this is happening, this is the end of the world" moments.

Is it High School that is inherently awful though? Or was it just a perfect storm of teenage hormones, too much parental supervision, and a complete lack of wine that made it so unbearable? Would it have been much more manageable if I'd only had a bit more insight, perspective, and guidance?

Scoring a two doesn't seem like such a big deal when you realize that no potential employer is ever going to ask for the ballots from your Junior Year choral competition.

Sure, your voice is cracking, your face is breaking out, and you got an erection during a Chemistry presentation, but I just had to figure out a way to trim my ear hair, so you should probably just settle in for a long life of your body trying to humiliate you.

Do you really need to throw a fit when it's announced that you won't be taking the final bow at curtain call even though you had a lead role?

Yeah, that ones legit.

I wish I could go back in time and sit down with Teenage Chris. I'd love to tell him the things I know now and get him to really appreciate how potentially wonderful his teen years could be (I mean, is it just me, or does it seem insane that summer break used to be a thing?!). Here are the lessons I wish he'd have learned so he could have chilled the f#%! out, lightened the f#%! up, and arrived at a happy place a lot sooner.

- Cool it with the fleece zip up vests and souvenir Planet Hollywood t-shirts. You've never even been to Denver.

- Mom and Dad are pretty wonderful. Don't be afraid to open up. They can handle it.

- While on vacation in Spain, a woman is going to approach you as you browse Harry Potter books. She will strike up a conversation, but this is not a good opportunity to practice your conversational Spanish. This woman is a prostitute. Remove yourself from the situation immediately.

- Quit trying to hide the swish in your step and the lilt in your voice. It's fabulous.

- There will be people in your life that you admire but are toxic. Don't let yourself get dragged into situations that go beyond your maturity level.

- You will be shocked by how much weight you lose just by switching to diet soda, do it now while you still have your wonderful teen metabolism...I could use the headstart.

- No matter how many signals he sends, that boy is straight. Quit wasting your time.

- Speaking of straight boys, something wonderful happens in ten years. They all get less attractive, and gay men just get more attractive. It's a pretty great perk.

- Your friends now will be your friends beyond high school, and your relationships will only grow stronger. This is something truly special. Appreciate them.

- Learn how to properly clear your browser history, or start coming up with better lies. A hacker was browsing gay porn on our computer? Really? That's the story you're going with?

- Don't build your walls so high, let down your guard, and let people in. Don't be afraid to say, "I love you" and to accept love from others.

- Find the line between adorably snarky and snarky bitch, and don't cross it. Choosing kindness towards others even when kindness hasn't been earned is the most important (and the hardest) decision you'll ever make...and the feeling of superiority that comes along with it is amazing.

- Look at how much hair gel you're using. Cut that in're still using too much. I really can't even understand the hair choices you're making right now.

- You cannot wear white athletic socks with leather sandals, I don't care if you think that it "dresses them up."

- If you don't listen to any of this (which you probably won't because you're kind of a stubborn little bitch), just remember that no one enjoys being a teenager, but at some point you're going to realize that the things you care about so deeply now will be laughable a few years down the road. Enjoy these last few years before you have a real job, real bills, and real responsibilities.

'Cause then you'll really have something to bitch about.

Go get 'em, tiger!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Britney Spears is Changing My Life

(and how she can do the same for you)

It's a well documented fact that I have a problem with follow through. It's an even more well documented fact that I have an even bigger problem with just not starting things to begin with.

Whatever book I'm reading is usually more interesting than cleaning ever could be. Wine and movie nights are much more fun than picking up extra shifts at work. I could sit down and work out a budget, but that seems like a problem for Next Week Chris. And there is always, always, always something on Netflix that is better than going to the gym.

But I noticed a change with the release of Britney Spears's motivational anthem, Work B*tch.

Yes, Britney, I DO want a hot body, I DO want a Bugatti (I mean I'd probably even settle for a car that doesn't have the imprint of the bridge that I rammed it into on its front bumper), I DO want to sip martinis, and I'd LOVE to look hot in a bikini (or, given that I'm a male with a reasonable amount of body hair, some trunks)!

And you're telling me (kind of aggressively) that all I need to do is work?!

It's so. f#%!ing. simple.

I'm really great at making goals, but wishful thinking isn't enough. I needed a push, a reminder that nothing is going to change until I start taking an active role in making that change happen. I needed to be told, in no uncertain terms, that if I wanted something, I was going to need to go out and get it.

In other words, "Work, bitch!"

"I know I said I'd go to the gym, but I forgot my water bottle at home, so..."

"Prep time 25 minutes?! Maybe I'll just eat Oreos for supper..."

"I don't feel like doing laundry, I'd probably get away with wearing my 2002 high school choir t-shirt to work..."

"Sleeping 'til noon sounds awesome, but I should probably get up at seven this weekend so I have plenty of time to get all of the cleaning done that I put off all week."'re right, gurl, let's hit snooze.

In all seriousness though, it has become a fantastic mantra. I've been to the gym three times in the last week (which is three times more than the last four months), I guilted myself into working an extra shift, I started writing this very blog post three days sooner than I normally do, and I even did the dishes right after preparing a meal!

I also recently ate pasta out of a mixing bowl, so we're not quite there.

This revelation made me wonder if I've been overlooking Britney as a source of motivation, knowledge, and guidance. Are there other brilliant gems hidden in her music? I decided to take a look back at my five favorite Britney songs, and explore how each one can be used to make our lives better.

1. Kill The Lights

One of my favorite things about Ms. Spears is that she doesn't pander to the insecure, emo, disenfranchised crowd. Don't get me wrong, I love Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, and there are times when being told that I'm a Firework who was Born This Way is exactly what I need to hear. Britney doesn't bother with the "a bunch of people think I suck, but I'm going to rise above it because, gosh darnit, I'm wonderful" mindset though. Her message  is, "I'm a hot ass bitch, I know it, and I'm sorry, was someone else speaking?"

Kill the Lights is the perfect example of this. Just try to have a low self esteem day after jamming out to this song. I listen to this one a lot while getting ready, feeling preposterously sassy while I sing the lyrics, "Mr. Photographer, I think I'm ready for my close up tonight. Make sure you catch me from my good side...pick one." Have more self confident lyrics ever been written? 

Maybe you disagree, but I can't really be bothered to care what your opinion on the subject is right now.

2. Brave New Girl

Artists like Gaga and Madonna get all the credit for reinventing themselves once a year, and they certainly do make miraculous transformations, but Britney has come a long way herself (and she's got a weird British accent now too, so looks like you're not so f#%!ing special, Madonna). Some of the transformations have been a bit scary (as with all major national tragedies, I remember exactly where I was when I'd learned that Britney had shaved her head), but she's found her way back to the top.

This particular track has always been my go to "my life is feeling stagnate, it's time to make a change" song. This song is perfect for driving with the windows down and screaming at the top of your lungs, "She lands on both feet, won't take the backseat, there's a brave new girl, and she's coming out tonight."

It's also great for making you feel like you're too old to still be doing this.

3. Boys

I feel like I need to take a second to comment on this video that I just revisited for probably the first time since it came out in 2001. What a wonderful reminder of what a freaking badass dancer she was before her knee injury and subsequent spiral into the Cheeto eating, chain smoking, barefoot in a bathroom mess that we came to know and love (and her eye makeup is on point)! As fierce as she is though, I'm a bit troubled by the celebrity cameos that were included in the video. Austin Powers? DJ Qualls?! Oh, 2001...

Personally, I'm terrified of approaching people that I'm interested in, but I need only borrow half the confidence our girl has in this song to get ALL the boys! I'm seriously considering trying the "You're a sexy guy, and I'm a nice boy..." line the next time I'm out at The Saloon.

And if that doesn't work, I can just aggressively whisper, "Get Nasty..." in their ear.

4. Amnesia

Okay, finding a lesson to learn from this one is a bit of a stretch, but I needed to include it because it's my absolute favorite. It was recorded for Circus, but as far as I know, never made it on to any of her albums, and I can't imagine why! I ADORE it! It's a bubbly, happy song with an adorable quality that a lot of Britney's super sexualized songs don't have (not that I don't love every single one of her songs that feature heavy unexplained panting in the middle).

So, what can we take away from this? Sew your name in your clothes in case you meet a cute boy and get amnesia?

Works for me.

5. Phonography

A bonus track on the Deluxe Edition of the Circus album. This is both the most fun and most ridiculous song in her vast library of music. It's the most fun to dance to, but it also tries to make Bluetooths (Blueteeth?) sexy.

It also teaches us how wonderful sexting is!

Nevermind, scratch that, this one's just for dancing.

In conclusion, I hate writing conclusions, so let's just end on a gif of Britney pretending to grab Demi Lovato's ass.

God, I love her.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Just a Bunch of Hocus Pocus

Before we get started here I want to first make sure that we are all on the same page and agreeing that the end of October is the GREATEST TIME OF THE YEAR.

Seriously. Is there anything not to love about this time of year? 

The answer you're looking for is, "No. There's not, Chris." We've got pretty colored leaves, American Horror Story is on again, sweater weather, I don't have to feel bad for driving places that it's nice enough outside to walk to, and most of all...Halloween.

There are two types of people in the world; those who love Halloween and those who should do us all a favor and go fall in a hole.

I've had a serious love for All Hallow's Eve for as long as I can remember, and most of my traditions have grown up with me. I still watch Hocus Pocus every year, but the addition of wine has made it infinitely better. Pumpkin carving is an annual event, and Peppermint Patties go along with it quite nicely. I still pass out at 3 AM on Halloween night, but now it's caused by vodka and not the crash from a peanut butter cup induced sugar high.

I may not have done any actual growing up since starting this blog, but week after week it seems to bring to light troubling evidence which implies that I may be developing a drinking problem.

Like I do every year, I began planning my costume months before Halloween, but put off putting it together until a week before when I had to frantically throw something together.

This year I planned on being a raincheck.

So cute, right? 

Turns out adorable yellow rain jackets and matching galoshes are easier to find for women than they are for men (yet another example of how my life would be better if I was a drag queen). So after a few months of exhaustive (I eBayed it twice) searching, I was a week from Halloween with no clue what I was going to do. That's when I flashed back to the Girly Game Night I'd attended a few weeks before when I pointed out to everyone how gay all of the boys on Dream Phone looked.

I would snuggle Paul so hard.
...I look gay...I could be a Dream Phone boy.

So I decided to make a cardboard cutout of one of the cards, throw on some late 80's/early 90's clothes, and call it a costume. AND I could blog about my original, last minute, inexpensive, DIY costume!

I severely underestimated how much time and money this would end up costing me. DIY is only easy and inexpensive if you already have all of the stuff.

So I scoured the thrift stores and craft shops for supplies and finally got to work four days before Halloween. I started out by spray painting a piece of foam board hot pink. I briefly considered trying to do it in my kitchen (like when I used acrylic sealant indoors the last time I crafted), but figured  there was no way I would keep the pink contained, so I did it in the super sketchy area underneath my apartment stairs.

I left it to dry for a day, and then cut out the portrait area of the card. Cutting a straight line ended up being WAY harder than I anticipated, so to draw attention away from my goof (and to give it a little something extra), I added a border of glitter around the outside. I used painters tape to ensure that my lines were even, applied a layer of Mod Podge and then glitter, and left it to dry (for about an hour or so) before peeling off the tape. 

Next I turned my attention to the logo. I'm far too anal retentive to just trace any old letters on the foam board; it had to be the actual logo. I ended up finding it on the internet, zooming in to the size I wanted it to be, and tracing it onto notebook paper from my computer screen. I then cut those letters out and traced them on to colored tag board. 

It was super tedious and awful, so I left the rest of the work for the next day. 

After getting all the lettering cut out, I brushed on a layer of Mod Podge and added glitter. While the letters dried I cut out two more pieces of tagboard to serve as the border for the logo. I added another layer of glitter around the edges of the outer piece, and then glued the letters into place.

Once I finished the logo, I said f#%! it, and went to bed, meaning I had to finish the rest on Halloween day before going out to the bar. 

I finished it up by repeating the tracing, stenciling, and glittering process on the letters for my name and phone number. After everything was glued in place, I did a few coats of clear acrylic sealant to hold the glitter in place, and give the whole thing a bit of a glossy appearance.

Winking? Drunk eyes? Don't know, don't care.
I didn't decide until last minute if I was going to use my real phone number or not. It wasn't until I called my sister to ask for advice and she asked, "Seriously? Why would you use your real number, are you trying to get a date out of it or something?" 

Well...I'm certainly not trying to not get a date. Real phone number it is!

I finished in just enough time to get changed and get ready for people to meet at my apartment to have a few drinks before we went out. 

I'm just about the worst possible host. It never occurs to me that I should have things like snacks, or drinks, or toilet paper for my guests until they are already here. 

I pretty much drink like a hobo, and I mix with whatever I have in the fridge...seriously, one time I mixed mandarin orange juice and vodka and pretended that Mandarin Orange Martinis were a thing that normal people drink. At the time I was planning on shooting vodka straight and chasing it with water. Luckily I stumbled upon the bottle of Crystal Light I'd used a few weeks ago to try to make beer drinkable, and I could throw together a cocktail using lukewarm tap water and vodka.

"I don't have any ice, but you can chip some frost out of the freezer if you'd like?"

We'd planned on going out to karaoke on Halloween night, but we also wanted to take advantage of 2 for 1 drinks at The Underground before we went down. That's when I realized just how obnoxious my costume was. I really didn't account for how super annoying it would be trying to negotiate a crowd with a 3' x 5' piece of foamboard. Not only was it super hard to get around, but I kept getting stopped and asked to hold it up only to receive blank stares and confused questions. That's when I made another realization...

Dream Phone came out in 1991. 21 year olds were born in 1992.

F#%! this place, I'm out.

I got another chance to trot my costume out at my friend's Halloween party that Saturday. As I was getting ready, I noticed that sometime Thursday night the wind jacket had developed a red stain on the front (which is odd since my drink is clear). I briefly considered wearing a different costume, but then I remembered that I don't have anything to prove, threw on my slap bracelet, and headed out.

Now this was a crowd that could appreciate my costume, and by that I mean they were old enough to have voted in the 2004 Presidential Election. I set the cutout to the side while I grabbed a drink and mingled. While I left the cutout unattended there was apparently an entire photo shoot with Ursula the Sea Witch, The Predator, and Jesus Riding a Dinosaur all as Dream Phone Boys. It's been hilarious seeing the photos pop up on my newsfeed, but has caused a bit of concern over the number of people on the internet that now have my phone number (apparently not enough concern for me to edit it out of the picture posted above). 

I've decided to just start answering all unknown numbers by saying, "He looks good in whatever he wears, but he doesn't have the money to pay for whatever bill you're calling him about right now!"

The night, and the 2013 Halloween season, ended, as every night that begins with me chasing allergy medication with vodka does, with me talking a straight boy into taking his shirt off (not being hyperbolic, this is literally how this scenario always plays out). 

Sorry 'bout it.